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. Chapter 4.

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

1 SEEING THEN THAT we have been entrusted with this commission, which we owe entirely to God's mercy, we never lose heart. 2 We have renounced the deeds that men hide for very shame; we neither practise cunning nor distort the word of God; only by declaring the truth openly do we recommend ourselves, and then it is to the common conscience of our fellow-men and in the sight of God. 3 And if indeed our gospel be found veiled, the only people who find it so are those on the way to perdition. 4 Their unbelieving minds are so blinded by the god of this passing age, that the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the very image of God, cannot dawn upon them and bring them light. 5 It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake. 6 For the same God who said, 'Out of darkness let light shine', has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelation—the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 We are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure, and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God's alone. 8 Hard-pressed on every side, we are never hemmed in; bewildered, we are never at our wits' end; 9 hunted, we are never abandoned to our fate; struck down, we are not left to die. 10 Wherever we go we carry death with us in our body, the death that Jesus died, that in this body also life may reveal itself, the life that Jesus lives. 11 For continually, while still alive, we are being surrendered into the hands of death, for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be revealed in this mortal body of ours. 12 Thus death is at work in us, and life in you.

13 But Scripture says, 'I believed, and therefore I spoke out', and we too, in the same spirit of faith, believe and therefore speak out; 14 for we know that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will with Jesus raise us too, and bring us to his presence, and you with us. 15 Indeed, it is for your sake that all things are ordered, so that, as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God.

Living by Faith

16 No wonder we do not lose heart! Though our outward humanity is in decay, yet day by day we are inwardly renewed. 17 Our troubles are slight and shortlived; and their outcome an eternal glory which outweighs them far. 18 Meanwhile our eyes are fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen: for what is seen passes away; what is unseen is eternal.

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